Special Issue "Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Crop Breeding and Genetics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Jesús Mercado-Blanco
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Crop Protection, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, CSIC, 14004 Cordoba, Spain
Interests: banana; beneficial endophytes; biological control; integrated disease management; olive; omics; plant–microbe interactions; Pseudomonas; Rhizosphere microbiology; soil-borne diseases
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Leire Molinero-Ruiz
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Crop Protection, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, CSIC, 14004 Cordoba, Spain
Interests: Diversity of crop pathogens; Early disease detection; Field crops diseases; Genetic resistance; Integrated disease management; Oomycetes; Parasitic plants; Phytopathology; Soil-borne fungi
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Diseases are one of the reducing factors affecting actual the production of crops, causing severe losses in a wide range of agro-ecosystems worldwide. While many biotic constraints caused by viruses, bacteria, oomycetes, fungi, nematodes and parasitic plants are well known, and confronted with variable success, the occurrence of emerging pathogens and the progressive incidence of novel virulent strains, races or pathotypes is evident. The reasons explaining these new phytopathological scenarios are diverse, ranging from changing environmental and climatic factors to inappropriate agronomical practices, or from the lost of genetic diversity to crop resistance breakage. Moreover, the practicability of some of the currently-available crop protection measures is questioned. Indeed, crop diseases are mainly controlled by using chemically-based biocides, which poses risks for human and animal health and undesirable effects to beneficial (micro)biota. These control measures have caused public concern, and many of the most broadly-used biocides are (or will be) prohibited. Therefore, research efforts in the field of crop protection currently aim to identify and develop novel and alternative approaches to efficiently manage plant pathogens. Overall, the success in crop diseases control must be based on integrated management strategies, with emphasis on preventive measures. Within this framework, chemical, physical, biological and agronomical control tools must be considered. Moreover, appropriate protocols for their correct and timely implementation must be designed. For that, a comprehensive knowledge of etiological agents is crucial. Thus, is the understanding on how they interact with the host(s), as well as with the a/biotic factors present in the agro-ecosystem. Finally, current trends in the management of crop diseases aim to fit sustainability and environmentally friendly criteria. Even though the large number of research efforts conducted, yet relevant information is missing. This Special Issue focuses on the etiology of both traditional and emerging crop diseases, and on the strategies to effectively control them. We welcome submission of research reports and review papers. We particularly encourage, not exclusively though, studies in which state-of-the-art methodological procedures are implemented in the appealing field of the etiology and control of crop diseases.

Dr. Jesús Mercado-Blanco
Dr. Leire Molinero-Ruiz
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Bacteria
  • Biological Control
  • Emerging pathogens
  • Fungi
  • Genetic resistance
  • Integrated disease management
  • Molecular diagnostic tools
  • Sustainable agriculture

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Phenolic Acid-Degrading Consortia Increase Fusarium Wilt Disease Resistance of Chrysanthemum
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030385 - 12 Mar 2020
Abstract
Soil microbial community changes imposed by the cumulative effects of root-secreted phenolic acids (PAs) promote soil-borne pathogen establishment and invasion under monoculture systems, but the disease-suppressive soil often exhibits less soil-borne pathogens compared with the conducive soil. So far, it remains poorly understood [...] Read more.
Soil microbial community changes imposed by the cumulative effects of root-secreted phenolic acids (PAs) promote soil-borne pathogen establishment and invasion under monoculture systems, but the disease-suppressive soil often exhibits less soil-borne pathogens compared with the conducive soil. So far, it remains poorly understood whether soil disease suppressiveness is associated with the alleviated negative effects of PAs, involving microbial degradation. Here, the long-term monoculture particularly shaped the rhizosphere microbial community, for example by the enrichment of beneficial Pseudomonas species in the suppressive soil and thus enhanced disease-suppressive capacity, however this was not observed for the conducive soil. In vitro PA-degradation assays revealed that the antagonistic Pseudomonas species, together with the Xanthomonas and Rhizobium species, significantly increased the efficiency of PA degradation compared to single species, at least partially explaining how the suppressive soil accumulated lower PA levels than the conducive soil. Pot experiments further showed that this consortium harboring the antagonistic Pseudomonas species can not only lower PA accumulation in the 15-year conducive soils, but also confer stronger Fusarium wilt disease suppression compared with a single inoculum with the antagonistic bacteria. Our findings demonstrated that understanding microbial community functions, beyond the single direct antagonism, facilitated the construction of active consortia for preventing soil-borne pathogens under intensive monoculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Fungicides and Management Strategies against Cercospora Leaf Spot of Olive Caused by Pseudocercospora cladosporioides
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020271 - 14 Feb 2020
Abstract
Cercospora leaf spot of olive (CLSO), caused by Pseudocercospora cladosporioides, is one of the most important foliar diseases of olives worldwide. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of a wide range of fungicides on mycelial growth and conidial germination of P. [...] Read more.
Cercospora leaf spot of olive (CLSO), caused by Pseudocercospora cladosporioides, is one of the most important foliar diseases of olives worldwide. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of a wide range of fungicides on mycelial growth and conidial germination of P. cladosporioides in vitro, and to evaluate the effect of several fungicides, application timings and management strategies (conservative and risky) to control CLSO under field conditions. Of the studied fungicides, strobilurin compounds and benomyl were the most effective active ingredients, followed by folpet, captan and maneb, in inhibiting mycelial growth and conidial germination. The pyraclostrobin + boscalid treatment was effective under field conditions, even without the application of supplementary copper. Treatments conducted in October or March were more effective than those conducted in May. Management strategies based on the author’s experience reduced copper applications up to 32.0% and 50.0% (conservative and risky strategy, respectively) in comparison to the reduction with the traditional strategy, without increasing CLSO incidence. This work provides useful information about effective formulations against CLSO and a reduction in unnecessary fungicide applications in an effort to implement IPM in olive orchards under Mediterranean conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Marker-Assisted Introgression of Multiple Resistance Genes Confers Broad Spectrum Resistance against Bacterial Leaf Blight and Blast Diseases in PUTRA-1 Rice Variety
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010042 - 26 Dec 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Bacterial leaf blight caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv oryzae (Xoo) and blast caused by Magnaporthe oryzae are major diseases responsible for significant yield loss in rice production across all rice growing regions. Host plant resistance has been advocated as a sustainable [...] Read more.
Bacterial leaf blight caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv oryzae (Xoo) and blast caused by Magnaporthe oryzae are major diseases responsible for significant yield loss in rice production across all rice growing regions. Host plant resistance has been advocated as a sustainable means of guarding against the diseases. This experiment was conducted with the aim to introgress multiple resistance genes against bacterial leaf blight and blast diseases through marker-assisted backcross breeding. Two dominant (Xa4 and Xa21) and two recessive (xa5 and xa13) Xoo resistance genes were introgressed into a high yielding Malaysian rice variety Putra-1 with genetic background of three blast resistance (Piz, Pi2 and Pi9) genes. Eight polymorphic tightly linked functional and SSR markers were used for foreground selection of target genes. Seventy nine polymorphic SSR markers were used in background selection. The plants were challenged at initial stage of breeding and challenged again at BC2F2 with the most virulent Malaysian pathotypes of Xoo (P7.7) and Magnaporthe oryzae (P7.2) to test their resistance. Results obtained from foreground marker segregation analysis at BC1F1 and BC2F1 showed that the marker polymorphism both fitted into the Mendel’s single gene segregation ratio of 1:1 for both Xoo and blast resistance. At BC2F2, results indicated that foreground marker polymorphism fitted into the expected Mendelian ratio of 1:2:1 for blast resistance only. Marker-assisted background selection revealed high percentage of recurrent parent genome recovery (95.9%). It was concluded that the inheritance of blast resistance in the introgressed lines was mainly due to single gene action while the inheritance of Xoo resistance was substantially due to single nuclear gene action. The incorporation of four bacterial leaf blight and three blast resistance genes (Xa4 + xa5 + xa13 + Xa21; Pi9 + Pi2 + Piz) in the newly developed lines would provide for broad spectrum and durable resistance against the two major diseases studied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Screening and Evaluation of Essential Oils from Mediterranean Aromatic Plants against the Mushroom Cobweb Disease, Cladobotryum mycophilum
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 656; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100656 - 18 Oct 2019
Abstract
The main aim of this study was to evaluate the use of essential oils (EOs) as an alternative to synthetic fungicides used in the control of cobweb disease of button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) caused by Cladobotryum mycophilum. The EOs used [...] Read more.
The main aim of this study was to evaluate the use of essential oils (EOs) as an alternative to synthetic fungicides used in the control of cobweb disease of button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) caused by Cladobotryum mycophilum. The EOs used were obtained by hydrodistillation from five Mediterranean aromatic species (Lavandula × intermedia, Salvia lavandulifolia, Satureja montana, Thymus mastichina, and Thymus vulgaris), analyzed by gas chromatography, and tested in vitro for their antifungal activity against C. mycophilum. In vitro bioassays showed that the EOs obtained from T. vulgaris and S. montana (ED50 = 35.5 and 42.8 mg L−1, respectively) were the most effective EOs for inhibiting the mycelial growth of C. mycophilum, and were also the most selective EOs between C. mycophilum and A. bisporus. The in vivo efficacy of T. vulgaris and S. montana EOs at two different concentrations (0.5 and 1%) were evaluated in two mushroom growing trials with C. mycophilum inoculation. The treatments involving T. vulgaris and S. montana EOs at the higher dose (1% concentration) were as effective as fungicide treatment. The effect of these EOs on mushroom productivity was tested in a mushroom cropping trial without inoculation. They had a strong fungitoxic effect at the first flush. However, a compensatory effect was observed by the end of the crop cycle and no differences were observed in biological efficiency between treatments. The main compounds found were carvacrol and p-cymene for S. montana, and p-cymene and thymol for T. vulgaris. These results suggest that T. vulgaris and S. montana EOs may be useful products to manage cobweb disease if used as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) program. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Nematode Management in the Strawberry Fields of Southern Spain
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050252 - 21 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
(1) Background: Spain is the sixth strawberry producer in the world, with about 6500 ha producing more than 350,000 tons, and an annual commercial value about 390 million €. Stunted and dead strawberry plants are frequently associated with plant-parasitic nematodes, but nematode diseases [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Spain is the sixth strawberry producer in the world, with about 6500 ha producing more than 350,000 tons, and an annual commercial value about 390 million €. Stunted and dead strawberry plants are frequently associated with plant-parasitic nematodes, but nematode diseases have not been characterized to date in the country. (2) Methods: A poll on the perception of the impact of nematodes on strawberry production was carried out by face-to-face interviews with farm advisors. In addition, nematological field surveys were carried out at the end of the growing season in 2017 and 2018 to determine prevalence and abundance of plant-parasitic nematodes in strawberry crops. The host suitability to Meloidogyne hapla of seventeen strawberry cultivars and the tolerance limit to M. hapla at progressively higher initial population densities (Pi) were assessed in pot experiments in a growth chamber. Comparison of the relative efficacies of several soil disinfestation methods in controlling nematode populations (M. hapla and Pratylenchus penetrans) was carried out in experimental field trials for twelve consecutive years. (3) Results: Meloidogyne spp., Pratylenchus penetrans, and Hemicycliophora spp. were the main plant-parasitic nematodes in the strawberry fields in South Spain. Root-knot nematodes were found in 90% of the fields, being M. hapla the most prevalent species (71% of the fields). A tolerance limit of 0.2 M. hapla juveniles per g of soil was estimated for strawberry, and currently cropped strawberry cultivars did not show resistance to M. hapla. Nematode population densities were reduced by more than 70% by soil fumigation with 1,3-dichloropropene, dazomet, dimethyl-disulfide, and methyl iodide. The efficacy of metam-sodium in reducing nematode populations was about 50% and that of chloropicrin, furfural, and sodium-azide, less than 40%. Combination of solarization with organic manures (biosolarization) reduced soil nematode populations by 68–73%. (4) Conclusions: Plant-parasitic nematodes (Meloidogyne, Pratylenchus, and Hemicycliophora) are widely distributed in the strawberry fields of Southern Spain. Strawberry is a poor host for M. hapla with a tolerance limit of 0.2 J2 per g of soil, and low population increases in cropping cycles of 7–8 months. Strawberry cultivars show a range of susceptibility and tolerance to M. hapla, but no resistance is found. Nematodes are effectively controlled by chemical fumigation of soils, but soil biosolarization is equally effective, and therefore, can be proposed as a sustainable alternative for pathogen control in strawberry cultivation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Investigation of Seed transmission in Peronospora belbahrii the Causal Agent of Basil Downy Mildew
Agronomy 2019, 9(4), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9040205 - 23 Apr 2019
Abstract
Downy mildew in sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) caused by the oomycete pathogen Peronospora belbahrii Thines was first recorded in Israel in 2011. Within one year, the pathogen has spread all over the country, causing devastating economic damage to basil crops. Similar [...] Read more.
Downy mildew in sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) caused by the oomycete pathogen Peronospora belbahrii Thines was first recorded in Israel in 2011. Within one year, the pathogen has spread all over the country, causing devastating economic damage to basil crops. Similar outbreaks were reported in Europe, the USA, and Asia. Seed transmission and seedling trade were suggested as possible explanations for this rapid spread. Here, we show that P. belbahrii can develop systemically in artificially inoculated basil plants in growth chambers. It may reach remote un-inoculated parts of the plant including the axillary buds but not the roots or seeds. To verify whether transmission of the disease occurs via seeds, we harvested seeds from severely infected, field-grown basil plants. Harvests were done in four seasons, from several basil cultivars growing in three locations in Israel. Microscopic examinations revealed external contamination with sporangia of P. belbahrii of untreated seeds, but not of surface-sterilized seeds. Pathogen-specific PCR assays confirmed the occurrence of the pathogen in untreated seeds, but not in surface-sterilized seeds. Contaminated seeds were grown (without disinfection) in pasteurized soil in growth chambers until the four–six leaf stage. None of several thousand plants showed any symptom or sporulation of downy mildew. PCR assays conducted with several hundred plants grown from contaminated seeds proved no latent infection in plants developed from such seeds. The results confirmed that (i) P. belbahrii can spread systemically in basil plants, but does not reach their roots or seeds; (ii) sporangia of P. belbahrii may contaminate the surface, but not the internal parts, of seeds produced by infected basil plants in the field: and (iii) contaminated seeds produce healthy plants, which carry no latent infection. The data suggest that P. belbahrii in Israel is seed-borne, but not seed-transmitted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Methods for Studying Magnaporthiopsis maydis, the Maize Late Wilt Causal Agent
Agronomy 2019, 9(4), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9040181 - 09 Apr 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Late wilt, a destructive vascular disease of maize caused by the fungus Magnaporthiopsis maydis, is characterized by relatively fast wilting of maize plants closely before the physiological maturity stage. Previously, traditional microbiology-based methods have been used to isolate the pathogen and to [...] Read more.
Late wilt, a destructive vascular disease of maize caused by the fungus Magnaporthiopsis maydis, is characterized by relatively fast wilting of maize plants closely before the physiological maturity stage. Previously, traditional microbiology-based methods have been used to isolate the pathogen and to characterize its traits. More recently, several molecular methods have been developed, enabling accurate and sensitive examination of the pathogen spread within the host. Here, we review the methods developed in the past 10 years in Israel, which include new or modified microbial and molecular techniques to identify, monitor, and study M. maydis in controlled environments and in the field. The assays inspected are exemplified with new findings and include microbial isolation methods, microscopic and PCR or qPCR identification, spore germination evaluation, root pathogenicity assay, M. maydis hyphae or filtrate effects on grain germination and sprout development, and a field assay. These diagnostic protocols enable rapid and reliable detection and identification of the pathogen in plants and seeds and studying the pathogenesis of M. maydis in susceptible and relatively resistant maize cultivars in a contaminated field. Moreover, these techniques are important for studying the population structure, and for future development of new strategies to restrict the disease’s outburst and spread. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Detection and Quantification of Fusarium spp. (F. oxysporum, F. verticillioides, F. graminearum) and Magnaporthiopsis maydis in Maize Using Real-Time PCR Targeting the ITS Region
Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020045 - 22 Jan 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Fusarium spp. and Magnaporthiopsis maydis are soil-inhabiting fungi and respectively the causal agents of fusarium ear rot and late wilt, two important diseases that can affect maize, one of the most important cereal crops worldwide. Here, we present two sensitive real-time PCR TaqMan [...] Read more.
Fusarium spp. and Magnaporthiopsis maydis are soil-inhabiting fungi and respectively the causal agents of fusarium ear rot and late wilt, two important diseases that can affect maize, one of the most important cereal crops worldwide. Here, we present two sensitive real-time PCR TaqMan MGB (Minor Groove Binder) assays that detect and discriminate several Fusarium spp. (F. oxysporum, F. verticillioides, and F. graminearum) from M. maydis. The method is based on selective real-time qPCR amplification of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region and allows the quantification of the fungi. The applicability of this newly developed TaqMan methodology was demonstrated in a field experiment through the screening of potentially infected maize roots, revealing a high specificity and proving to be a suitable tool to ascertain Fusarium spp. and M. maydis infection in maize. Its high sensitivity makes it very efficient for the early diagnosis of the diseases and also for certification purposes. Thus, qPCR through the use of TaqMan probes is here proposed as a promising tool for specific identification and quantification of these soil-borne fungal pathogens known to cause disease on a large number of crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Diversity of Colletotrichum Species Associated with Olive Anthracnose and New Perspectives on Controlling the Disease in Portugal
Agronomy 2018, 8(12), 301; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8120301 - 14 Dec 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Olive anthracnose is a very common and severe disease caused by diverse species of fungi belonging to Colletotrichum acutatum and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides complexes. To understand aspects of the Colletotrichum colonization and primary infection in olives, Colletotrichum spp. were isolated from the interior of [...] Read more.
Olive anthracnose is a very common and severe disease caused by diverse species of fungi belonging to Colletotrichum acutatum and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides complexes. To understand aspects of the Colletotrichum colonization and primary infection in olives, Colletotrichum spp. were isolated from the interior of 2-year stems, flower buds, and immature fruits of three important olive cultivars, Galega vulgar, Cobrançosa, and Azeiteira, from different sites within Alentejo, a major olive-producing region in Portugal. A total of 270 trees was sampled, and 68 Colletotrichum spp. isolates were obtained from 46 olive trees. DNA extraction and amplification of β-tubulin and GADPH genes through PCR revealed that the vast majority of the isolates showed high similarity to Colletotrichum nymphaeae, and only three isolates showed high similarity to Colletotrichum godetiae. The highest number of Colletotrichum spp. isolates was detected in olive trees from Galega vulgar and in immature fruits. No significant differences in the number of Colletotrichum spp. isolates were found in trees from different sites. The highest percentages of infected immature fruits were obtained in trees that also presented a high percentage of 2-year stem infections, which may indicate that 2-year stems serve as important sources of inoculum, and the fungus may travel from the stems to other parts of the plant. Another indication of such possibility is that one isolate of C. nymphaeae (C. nymphaeae 2), characterized by a unique nucleotide mutation within the beta tubulin gene, was present in different organs of the same tree, both in 2-year stems and in recently formed vegetative organs as flower buds and immature fruits, which seem to suggest that it may be the same isolate, which has moved systemically inside the plant. The results presented here can play an important role in working out strategies for the effective and timely management of the disease and in reducing the number of unnecessary fungicide applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Present Status and Perspective on the Future Use of Aflatoxin Biocontrol Products
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 491; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040491 - 01 Apr 2020
Abstract
Aflatoxin contamination of important food and feed crops occurs frequently in warm tropical and subtropical regions. The contamination is caused mainly by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Aflatoxin contamination negatively affects health and trade sectors and causes economic losses to agricultural industries. [...] Read more.
Aflatoxin contamination of important food and feed crops occurs frequently in warm tropical and subtropical regions. The contamination is caused mainly by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Aflatoxin contamination negatively affects health and trade sectors and causes economic losses to agricultural industries. Many pre- and post-harvest technologies can limit aflatoxin contamination but may not always reduce aflatoxin concentrations below tolerance thresholds. However, the use of atoxigenic (non-toxin producing) isolates of A. flavus to competitively displace aflatoxin producers is a practical strategy that effectively limits aflatoxin contamination in crops from field to plate. Biocontrol products formulated with atoxigenic isolates as active ingredients have been registered for use in the US, several African nations, and one such product is in final stages of registration in Italy. Many other nations are seeking to develop biocontrol products to protect their crops. In this review article we present an overview of the biocontrol technology, explain the basis to select atoxigenic isolates as active ingredients, describe how formulations are developed and tested, and describe how a biocontrol product is used commercially. Future perspectives on formulations of aflatoxin biocontrol products, along with other important topics related to the aflatoxin biocontrol technology are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Etiology and Control of Crop Diseases)
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